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Monday, 15 April, 2002, 12:59 GMT 13:59 UK
University flexible over degree changes
School of Art History at St Andrews
It is reported the prince has opted for a subject change
According to newspaper reports, Prince William is changing degree course at St Andrews University from history of art to geography.

Such a change of heart is not uncommon and is something most universities try to accommodate.

The ease with which a student can switch from one course to another will obviously depend on the university in question and what subject the student wants to change from and to.

Prince William
Prince William: A change of direction
Some universities have more flexible study routes than others, while a student who is studying history may find it hard to switch to medicine.

Prince William's rumoured change of heart is clearly nothing out-of-the-ordinary at St Andrews, where the prospectus boasts of degree programmes "characterised by breadth and flexibility of study".

"We do recognise that many students are at first unsure of the degree programme to which they wish to commit themselves," the prospectus promises.

"And the broad base and flexible nature of study at St Andrews will offer you an opportunity to discover your specific strengths."

And the university operates a modular degree system - where each module is self-contained and worth a certain amount towards a student's degree - making study that much more flexible.

'Sympathetic'

A similar policy of flexibility operates at Southampton University.

"Normally changing subject is a fairly simple and straightforward process - there's no point in a student struggling on with a course they're not enjoying," said Dr Robert Green, senior registrar at the university.

"We're sympathetic to changes in courses, particularly those courses where a student may not have done anything like it at A-level - such as history of art," said Dr Green.

But a student would have to show they were suitably qualified for the new course, he added.

NUS advice

The National Union of Students said it was important for students who were not happy with their course to explore all avenues.

"Nobody wants an unhappy student," an NUS spokesman said.

"There's enough pressure on students trying to fund their way through university for them to have the added pressure of being unhappy with their course."

But a student should consider the financial implications if, by changing course, he or she has to do an extra year at university, the spokesman warned.

The union advises students to talk matters through with their tutors and with their local student union.

See also:

15 Apr 02 | Scotland
Prince 'swaps' degree course
20 Aug 01 | Scotland
Prince boosts university's draw
28 Jan 01 | Scotland
Students warned over William leaks
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